Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sporty Chronicles: Hacienda Luisita

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Luisita Interchange entrance from San Miguel, Tarlac City
On our way back to Manila from Pangasinan, I jumped for joy when we found ourselves traversing the San Miguel / Luisita Interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), the longest highway in the Philippines. Thanks to my princess' Red knight, who couldn't find the SCTex Tarlac City Interchange entrance, for this chanced travel which I recorded in my Sporty Chronicles!

Luisita Interchange exit to Manila
The Luisita Interchange is one of the eleven (11) exits starting from Subic in the south and ending in Tarlac City in the north of the 94-kilometer SCTex that connects the Subic Bay Freeport, the Clark Freeport, and Tarlac CityOf all the 11 exits of the SCTEx,  the Luisita Interchange is said to be the only one that directly leads to private property - the Hacienda Luisita.

The Hacienda Luisita is a  6,435 - hectare sugar plantation  owned by the Cojuangco family, which includes the late former President Corazon C. Aquino and her son, our incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III.  This huge piece of real estate housed the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, one of the largest sugar refinery in the Philippines.  The controversy involving this manufacturing plant and the workers that escalated into the so - called Hacienda Luisita Massacre was used against Pres. Noynoy during his campaign and is still an issue hounding his presidency.

From the San Miguel entrance, I noticed a signage that tells me what inside this (in)famous piece of real estate other than the Central Azucarera de Tarlac. There is Microtel Inn and Suites, Luisita Industrial Park, Luisita Business Park, Las Haciendas de Luisita which  housed the five (5) residential villages named after the second generation Cojuanco sisters: Carmen, Corazon, Josefine, Pacita and Teresita, a Spanish-Mexican inspired multi-purpose Haciendas de Luisita Clubhouse consisting of a sports complex, community clubhouse, function room, swimming pool,  and picnic area, the Luisita Golf and Country Club, and the Central Techno Park.

From where I sit, I enjoyed one smooth, free-flowing, green ride, unlike when we used to drive along Mabalacat Road amidst the traffic and smoke. No doubt, this gift of greenery during travel is brought about by the direct connection of the Luisita Interchange to the Central Techno Park of Hacienda Luisita. This connection, however, has spawned several controversies. Claimants said that the payment to the Cojuangco's of P83 million by the government for the 83 hectares road right-of-way was not only overpriced (Php 100 per square meter where the then on-going rate was only Php 6 per square meter) but also unusual because normally the property owners (who wish to have exits from the highway to their private properties) are the ones who pay the government for these exits (since having the exits increases the value of their private properties). 

Well, I do not know whose claim is right and as a puppy who loves to bark, I  can only hope and pray to these huge santo (carved wooden images of saints at the San Miguel entrance), that the attackers will not bark on the wrong tree!    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sporty Chronicles: The First Saga...NUVALI

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

They call me Sporty not only because of my athletic, outdoor, grumpy bulldog looks but primarily because I ride in my caregiver's Isuzu Sportivo which had been my home since I joined the family about two years ago. Unlike the hundred others of my type who are left in the house, I felt really blessed to be always going around - bringing kiddos to school, taking her to office and accompanying her in all her travels around Luzon - north to south. From where I sit, I have a real good view of our destination and can easily share my thoughts about the place with my caregiver, but...

I never have those intimate moments or close encounters with my princess the way I wanted, not because she doesn't care about me, but because she is amaxophobic or afraid of sitting in the driver's or front passenger's seat of the car. She just settled at the backseat (sometimes doing the backseat driving eh) and let me alone with the driver and anyone who loves sitting in front, to be appreciated. Sensing how lonesome I was, seven year - old Kyle gave me Aussie Sasha for a companion. But...

Sasha's touches are not as "hot" as my princess. Then Red came. He is like a knight in shining armor, who had turned my princess' world around and affected me too in a positive way. He is an old flame, who on their first day of meeting after 20 years, has swept her off her feet. He drives and she was inspired to overcome her phobia. Since then, she always look forward to going on a road trip and enjoy eating her favorite dimsum - pork siomai and siopao - while we drive. Because Red's house is in Sta. Rosa Heights (15 minutes from Tagaytay) on Tagaytay-Silang Road, we always passed by Nuvali. I was all smiles and can't help telling Sasha how cool it is to have a place like that where eco-living to the highest level is possible. On a personal side, having my caregiver that close felt so good - someone who caress me once in awhile as she giggled seeing the nice view and holding me tight when fear seeps in with Red's driving. It was all good and...

It ushered the start of my many travels... my happy, fun, Sporty Chronicles! 

Monday, October 15, 2012


by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

NATURAL.( i.e. characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions; not altered, treated, or disguised; faithfully representing nature or life) I am always myself when I'm with Red. 


Music & Lyrics by Red Isidro

All my hopes and dreams were washed away

All my faith in God has turned to grey

But when I see your eyes, they all came back to me

But when I see your face, they all came back to me

All the laughters and joys have vanished away

The colors of the rainbow have faded away

But when I see you smile, you brought back happiness
When I hear you laugh you brighten up my day


Your love Merry Ann has brought me back to my feet
Your love Merry Ann has wiped away all my tears
When I see your eyes, when I see your face
By the touch of your hand and when I kiss your lips

All the rooms were empty, dim and cold
All the lights were out, I can’t see my faults
But when you hold my hand, I was lost but now I’m found
And when I feel your sweet caress, I feel I’m home again

*This is part of a series of 2012 Monday post inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant's Stop DoingStart Being article on Family Circle Magazine April 1, 2005 issue. What she said about having so many "to-do" list and trying hard everyday to check off the list hit so close to home! I agree with her that what I need is a list to help me be who I want to be, both for myself and others. Click on START BEING Monday Series to see other list of cool virtues we could emulate!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Travel Spotlight: Aspen Colorado's Summer Flowers!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Everyone has good words for ASPEN, COLORADO and being a winter destination with top notch, world class  ski resorts and Hollywood celebrities playing around its beautiful surroundings are just two of them! For me though, Aspen is all about summer flowers.

I don't know much about flower types or meaning, but during travels I am drawn to these colorful and beautiful nature's creation. Beyond its winter charms, Aspen has captured me with its different varieties of flowers in bloom along the road when the sun is at its hottest.

Downtown Aspen is dressed in fresh flowers during summertime. Near the "dancing fountain" at the corner of Mill Street and Hyman Avenue  are huge pots planted with colorful flowers. The already beautiful Victorian houses and shops are made more elegant with various combinations of purple, red, yellow and white summer flowers around the area.

Even the Main Historic District of Aspen has a share of these flower beauties! There are gladiolus, geranium, chrysanthemums, gardenia, lisianthus and jasmine.s

In the field around Maroon Bells, I enjoyed getting lost in the midst of the yellow summer flowers that are very similar to sunflower because of its yellow ray petals and a central disk! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Family Walks: It's More Fun In The Philippines!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

To celebrate the National Family Week last Saturday, our family joined in the LDS Deparo Ward FUN Walk. Dressed in red tee-shirts with logo, several families walked for a few kilometers from our Deparo Meetinghouse to Caltex Station while handing out Church pamphlets to those we passed by. It was such a fun time being able to walk again with my whole family, which we never thought was an option even for short distance here in Manila - because pollution and heat are such kill joy! 

But since our family considers "walkingas a great family bonding and aware of its health and social benefits, we always find opportunities to take a walk together when traveling around the Philippines. We are spoiled for choices in places known for cooler climate and unthinkably beautiful surroundings in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Family Walks in Luzon - PARADISE RANCH (1 Hour)

For our family reunion we held a nature's camp in  Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park in the Sacobia Valley, just outside the Clark Expo gate. Within the 30 hectare facilities are several accommodations from villas to campsite,restaurant, cafes, picnic cabins, farmville, lake, swimming pool, butterfly gardens, bat caves, flower gardens, obstacle course, monkey feeding station, ostrich feeding station, aviary, safari waterfalls and prayer hill. 

To teach kids the importance of nature and its preservation, part of our activities include a leisurely walk on a paved road in the midst of mahogany trees and lush green grass checking out the beautiful gardens, bird enclosures and other lookouts. The walk was fun and took us about an hour to finish.

From our bahay kubo, we walked towards the obstacle course area, farmville, flower gardens, then to the butterfly garden where we listened to the guide about the several species of butterfly and the kids enjoyed catching butterflies along the way, then up to the Prayer Hill which afforded us a view of Clark and Pinatubo and down to the aviary, bat cave and back to our accommodation. 
Our Family guided tour is already included in our package rate but if you are not availing of package stay, Guided Tours which last about an hour  cost P100  per group of up to 10 persons. 

For other memorable family walks, check our Jungle Trekking in JEST Camp, Subic Olongapo featured as one of the adventures on a cheap in August 2012 PTB Blog Carnival. We also had family walks in Tagaytay,  Batangas and in our province in Vinzons, Camarines Norte.

Family Walks in Visayas - CEBU TAOIST TEMPLE 
      (10 - 15 Minutes)
"Cebu Taoist Temple was built in 1972 by Cebu's substantial Chinese 
community. The temple is the center of worship for Taoism, the religion 
which follows the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Zi."
While we were in Cebu City, we stayed at the Patron House inside the temple compound of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (where we are members) in Gorordo Avenue, Brgy. Lahug. I learned that the Cebu Taoist Temple, one of Cebu's tourist spots is in Beverly Hills, a posh subdivision in Brgy. Lahug and is near our accommodation. Since we were 19 (10 kids and 9 adults) and the only service vehicles there are habal habal, we decided to explore on foot with the whole family. 

" We walked along paved but winding road  for about 10-15 minutes .
Since the temple 
has an elevation of 300 meters above sea level and a towering,
multi-tiered, multi-hued attraction
, you can have a good view while walking."
We left our accommodation at past 4 in the afternoon and crossed the road from our temple gate. The view was plain before we reached the paved and well maintained Canon Road of the subdivision but it got better when we made it out to the gate. As soon as we were about 20 meters past the gate, we can already see the Temple and took lotza of pictures. There's an intersection up ahead, turn left and continue walking along the slopes down and uphill until you get to the Temple to your left. There's no entrance fee and the Temple is open from 8am to 5pm. The total walk was only about 10-15 minutes on a slow pace. 

"Cebu Taoist Temple entrance is a replica of the Great Wall of China
The temple includes a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop and a wishing well. 
The spacious balconies offer a scenic view of the downtown Cebu"
"At the spacious balcony of the Taoist Temple showing its neighboring
Phu Sian Temple which is not open to the public."
Family Walks  in Mindanao - DAPITAN CITY (1 Hour)

My brothers and I followed our national hero's steps in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte as part of the Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail last February 2012.  Out of the 27 sites featured in the Rizal @150 Passport, six (6)  are found in Dapitan and all are reachable on foot. 
From the Rizal Shrine, we walked along Santa Cruz beach, a symbol of Christianity since 1607 when Jesuit priest F. Pascual Acuna arrived in Dapitan and baptized the natives.  Here we found the statue of  Rizal's disembarking from the ship that brought him to Dapitan to be exiled.

Casa Real, City Plaza of Dapitan,St. James Church and Relief Map of Mindanao
From our accommodation in Jose Rizal Memorial University hotel, we took a tricycle to Rizal Shrine in Brgy. Talisay and had a wonderful guided walking tour of the 16 hectare land and the casas (houses) built by our national hero for an hour or so. Then we took another tricycle to Santa Cruz beach and strolled around the beach to and fro Dr. Jose Rizal disembarkation point, then proceeded to the City Plaza of Dapitan for another walking tour of the Mindanao Relief Map, St. James Cathedral and Catholic Rectory and Casa Real.

Indeed, Family Walks: It's More Fun In the Philippines!

This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for October 2012 with the theme "Our Most Memorable Walking Tour" hosted by Glenn Martinez our Traveler On FootCheck out the previous blog carnival topics in Estan Cabigas' Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival.

Monday, October 1, 2012


by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

DELIGHTFUL. (i.e. being pleasant, charming, adorable) Even if I  already turned 39 today October 1 and still single! lol. Yea honestly, being old with no hubby or children yet is enough reason to get me down and feel depressed like most thirty niners out there. But oh well, no need to be grumpy for me despite my real age because anyway I  - feel young and still look like a teenager (ha ha. thanks to my good looks este my height!), have a wonderful, big, supportive family, and have a loving and caring special someone who colors my world Red and changed the meaning of my fave chocolate that melts in your mouth and not in your hands - M & M (to ME & MHE-ANNE instead of MAP & Mhe-anne I've known for the last 5 years!). So as suggested, I pledged to Start Being DELIGHTFUL and compliment all the people with whom I interact today coz everyone enjoys a sincere compliment. 

Are you delightful? how do you show it? 

*This is part of a series of 2012 Monday post inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant's Stop DoingStart Being article on Family Circle Magazine April 1, 2005 issue. What she said about having so many "to-do" list and trying hard everyday to check off the list hit so close to home! I agree with her that what I need is a list to help me be who I want to be, both for myself and others. Click on START BEING Monday Series to see other list of cool virtues we could emulate!

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